ICC 'Undeterred' After US Sanctions Threat

National Security Advisor John Bolton visits Kyiv Ukraine on Aug. 24 2018

National Security Advisor John Bolton visits Kyiv Ukraine on Aug. 24 2018. Maxym Marusenko—Nur

The Palestinian ambassador to South Africa Hashem Dajani said his government views the United States administration's decision to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) offices in Washington as a "threat".

On the ICC, Bolton said if any investigations go ahead on alleged U.S. war crimes, the Trump administration will consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the country, put sanctions on any funds they have in the United States financial system, and prosecute them in USA courts.

FILE - International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (L) is seen at the trial of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC in the Hague, the Netherlands, Aug. 28, 2018.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said a year ago there was a "reasonable basis to believe" war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the conflict would be examined, including members of the US armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency. The Obama administration had expanded cooperation with the court after former President George W. Bush signed a 2002 law that prohibits all government entities from cooperating with it, and authorizes the president "to use all means necessary" to force the release of any US or allied person detained by or on behalf of the court.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November", the State Department announced on Monday.

"The US threats against the ICC (are) a coup against the rules-based worldwide system", Erekat.

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Under Trump, U.S. relations with the ICC also have grown more strained.

The administration has said it's trying a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after decades of failed peace talks, chipping away at the Palestinians' key issues as it reshapes USA policy.

Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States, described on Monday the decision as reckless: "We condemn in the strongest terms the USA administration's decision to close the Palestinian mission to the US".

Erekat added: "We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to United States threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence, including by all political and legal means possible". "Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes".

Palestinian leaders say the administration is blatantly biased in favour of Israel and is seeking to blackmail Ramallah into accepting the White House's moves.

But in a statement, Nauert accused Palestinian leadership of condemning and not cooperating with the Trump administration's forthcoming peace plan, orchestrated by President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. "We will not cooperate with the ICC".

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"We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States". Similar measures would be taken against any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans, he said.

Afghan rights workers are warning that the US national security adviser's blistering attack on the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes allegations will strengthen a climate of impunity in Afghanistan, prolong the war and embolden those carrying out acts of violence. "We will not join the ICC", he added.

The ICC was chartered in 2002, but the Bush Administration refused to sign on, with Bolton - who was a top state department official at the time - leading the charge.

"W$3 e will remember that cooperation when setting USA foreign assistance, military assistance and intelligence-sharing levels", Bolton said.

"If the court comes after us, Israel or other USA allies, we will not sit quietly", Bolton said. However, some of the alleged ill-treatment continued until 2014, well into the presidency of Barack Obama.

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